Fluorescence spectroscopy is a type of electromagnetic spectroscopy which analyzes fluorescence from a sample. It involves using a beam of light, usually ultraviolet light, that excites the electrons in molecules of certain compounds and causes them to emit light of a lower energy, typically, but not necessarily, visible light.
Conformational changes of a protein (e.g. by binding a ligand) can be investigated changes in the fluorescence spectrum. The fluorescence of a folded protein is a mixture of the fluorescence from individual aromatic residues. Most of the intrinsic fluorescence emissions of a folded protein are due to excitation of tryptophan residues, with some emissions due to tyrosine and phenylalanine; but disulfide bonds also have appreciable absorption in this wavelength range. Typically, tryptophan has a wavelength of maximum absorption of 280 nm and an emission peak that is solvatochromic, ranging from ca. 300 to 350 nm depending in the polarity of the local environment. Hence, protein fluorescence may be used as a diagnostic of the conformational state of a protein. Furthermore, tryptophan fluorescence is strongly influenced by the proximity of other residues (i.e., nearby protonated groups such as Asp or Glu can cause quenching of Trp fluorescence). Also, energy transfer between tryptophan and the other fluorescent amino acids is possible, which would affect the analysis, especially in cases where the Förster acidic approach is taken. In addition, tryptophan is a relatively rare amino acid; many proteins contain only one or a few tryptophan residues. Therefore, tryptophan fluorescence can be a very sensitive measurement of the conformational state of individual tryptophan residues. The advantage compared to extrinsic probes is that the protein itself is not changed. The use of intrinsic fluorescence for the study of protein conformation is in practice limited to cases with few (or perhaps only one) tryptophan residues, since each experiences a different local environment, which gives rise to different emission spectra.
We offer training at the instrument and help interpreting the data. Usage is at cost, so users only have to pay a maintainance fee (fixed fee payed per measurement).
Please contact Dr. Sophie Brameyer for help, further information or a booking login account.